24 hours

#5DaysToVals - Write & Win (2)

#5DaysToVals Contest Entry – Submitted by  Amarachi Umekwe

Mitchell hurriedly grabbed his bag from the bed and threw it over his broad shoulders he picked his oral-B toothbrush and toothpaste, twisted the cap and applied the usual liberal amount of toothpaste on his brush, he grasped the doorknob and before turning it looked around, making sure that everything was in place in his one room apartment that served as his dining room, bedroom, living room and even sometimes a kitchen.

“My phone” unhanding the doorknob he went in search of his phone, he gingerly wiped the old blackberry bold 4 on his jeans when he found it.

“God, let this be it” he prayed silently. He hurried out of the house. “Aunty Simi, ahbeg help me with one pure water, I no get change” Mitchell shouted as he stepped outside. Aunty Simi, whose wood kiosk was standing in a corner outside the one storey building peeked out of the corner of her shop and scowled “brother Mitchell I no get that pure water”. Mitchell could clearly see at least twenty bags of water neatly arranged outside her shop and instantly knew she had refused his coded message of selling him water on credit.

“Aunty Simi ahbeg now”he began but aunty Simi stopped him “brother Mitchell ahbeg no beg me this early morning, the one wey you buy last week, you never give me. If no be say you fine I for no even dey answer you” Mitchell saw an opening, he smiled charmingly as this was his one and only card, he could see her defenses begin to shake once he smiled. “Oya take” aunty Simi opened her fridge and passed him the pure water, she tried not to blush as his fingers brushed hers “this one come make am fifty naira” she said.

“I will give you as I dey enter house” Mitchell replied and ran to the closest gutter where he did poor work of cleaning his mouth, he blew his breath into his closed palms and immediately inhaled. Satisfactory. He rinsed his mouth quickly as his phone began to vibrate.

Eunice held out the empty class jug out to the other maid who stood at the door, there were so many events taking place at the mansion that Eunice had forgotten the names of the maids “more water” she simply said. The maid at the door nodded and began to run across the long hallway.

“Eunice” a frail voice called from inside the large room. Eunice’s back snapped straight and she walked the distance to the duvet. The layers of bedding and covers cushioned Eunice’s madam, she coughed once and then more and Eunice wondered what was taking the maid so long “be strong Ma, more water is on the way”. Eunice picked the wet towel from the side table and patted her madam’s forehead. Her madame pushed her hand away.

“Is the companion here yet” she asked weakly.

“No ma’am”

“What’s taking so long”

Eunice stayed quiet and resumed patting her forehead and brow with the wet towel. Her madam pushed her hands off once again “I want to be alone, when she gets here I want her to be sent in immediately” she said. Eunice nodded and quietly stood up from the bed and left the room.

Mitchell got out from the taxi and grudgingly paid the cab driver the much bargained #2000.

He walked toward the gigantic gate, amazed by the intricate design on the gate he caressed it, tracing the slants and dips. The gates slid open at once and he stepped insise, a man in uniform came towards him and when Mitchell had introduced himself the uniformed man directed him inside. Mitchell waited in the foyer and was about to call jagaban and ask if this was really a job interview, he had only now begun to realise that jagaban had described this as the best work opportunity he would ever get. A large, stocky woman came in, walking briskly towards him, an agility that amazed him. She was dark too and had deep lines around her eyes and her forehead, unlike the maids he had seen in uniforms, this one wore only an apron tied neatly from her waist to the top of her knees.

She looked him up and down ” you’re the companion”

Mitchell didn’t know how to respond, he began to wonder if his outfit was just too simple for the occasion, what was she talking about, companion! He nodded sheepishly suddenly intimidated by this woman

“Do you talk” she asked.

“Yes ma”

“Come with me

“Ma’am, your companion is here” Eunice announced.

Grace sighed a breath of relief “send her in” she managed to say as she picked her glass full of water and sipped slowly. Eunice turned to the tall, handsome man and assessed him again, he felt her gaze soften and saw sadness curtain her facial features ” make her happy, she’s all we have and it’s all she has” Mitchell didn’t understand anything she said but nodded still. He was here for an interview.

Mitchell entered the room, it seemed to be empty and hot, he could smell the heavy stench of inferior drugs in the air.

“Good afternoon” he said into thin air.

“You’re late” he heard a frail voice from the large bed say ” my people around here call me ma’am and why is your voice so deep” the voice that seemed to be a woman’s said again haughtily.

Grace began to sit up in bed to see her companion, she looked straight into the eyes of the handsome stranger, he had strong facial features, he was the type ladies gave anything for, his bicep muscles danced and the veins in his neck stood out, if she wasn’t weak and sick, she’d have been salivating.

Mitchell could see her more clearly now, she looked deathly pale and bald too, yet she seemed to exude an ethereal beauty, her face was covered in sweat and he impulsively ran to her side, something in her drew him and it wasn’t pity for her condition. She was very thin, a dark beauty, a thin nose and small lips although chapped. He raised her in his arms and wiped her forehead with the wet towel, she pushed his hands away, she smelt like drugs, he smelt like soap. It was heaven considering what she was used to.

“It’s necessary” he simply said and grace couldn’t seem to argue. She felt the fight go out of her” you’re supposed to be a woman, I asked specifically” she said, she tried to move away from his strong arms but he gently held her still ” you got me” he replied. Surreal was the only way he could explain this, they communicated like they knew each other and he didn’t even know her name yet. He heard her sigh and knew she had almost given in, a strong woman he thought, most times he didn’t even have to say anything, the fact that this woman didn’t totally agree with him. ” you’re not supposed to take care of me, you’re my companion, you’re supposed to make me happy”

“Why” he couldn’t fathom how that question had come out, he hadn’t even thought about it, what was this woman doing to him. He had met so many women in his life many had helped him survive, he had been orphaned young and when he had realized he had a certain pull over women he had begun to use it to help himself.

Grace didn’t know how to answer his question, in fact she found him rude “are you blind, I am dying” she answered angrily, angry at herself, angry at him for reminding her his job was to make her forget. Her last words struck him, she was sick and dying, the reason for the dullness, the maids speech and the drugs. He moved away a bit, still shocked and felt her stiffen. He was supposed to make her happy. Isn’t this what he was good at, so why did it surprise him, what held him back. He pulled a chair beside her and looked at her clearly for the first time since he had arrived and she stared back angrily. “I am mitchell” he said. Grace hissed “isn’t that a girl’s name”

“A name that suits rich and spoilt princesses like you” mitchell retorted. Why had he reacted like that. He sighed. “What do you want to do” he asked. Grace reminded herself she was dying she had absolutely no one but her wealth, no family except Eunice. She realized this was her last chance, she wanted someone else in her life, to share something of herself, she had been nicked the cold princess, left with a vast empire at the death of her parents she’d developed a cold attitude since then towards everyone and everything dealing with her personal life and business as one and same.

“Nothing much. Orphaned young, studied geology no girlfriend” Mitchell blushed and wondered why he had mentioned that last part. Grace watched this grown man blush. A silence grew between them and filled the air, hours passed and Mitchell found himself holding her hands.

“I have no boyfriend too” she smiled. He smiled too. “We are perfect then” she realized his meaning and almost for the first time tried to flirt but remembered her situation “I am in the last stage of lung cancer, I am not so sure about that”

“It doesn’t matter” he said, he could see why Eunice had been so sad, she was easy to love. His words made her lighten up.

“I have never been to a cinemas, never seen a beach, never had a boyfriend, never had friends, never been kissed” she said the last part shyly. He laughed, his laughter made her smile too. “What are your nevers” she asked. She watched him think about this, he was a worldly man she concluded “I have never been rich” he replied, normally this should have made her angry, cautious but from him it seemed alright.

“I stopped taking my drugs, it’s an easier way to go without them” she said she wanted to remember she was dying. “Let’s not talk about death today, today you’re alive” his words soothed her. He held her hands and talked to her about everything and nothing, he watched her transform from the sick woman he met hours ago to a vibrant young woman. She laughed heartily at everything he said. After a while she grew quiet. He shook her, she opened her eyes and smiled “it’s coming” she said, “what” he asked. She didn’t answer.

“I love you” she laughed, “I don’t know how that’s possible but I just do and I have only just met you” she smiled at the absurdity of her words. He allowed his tears flow freely now and immediately wiped them. He held her hands tighter daring death to take her away from him. “Do you love me” she asked. He didn’t reply, “kiss me” he held her and placed his lips over her small chapped ones, she tasted of drugs, he cradled her in his arms and she managed to put her arms around his neck, he deepened the kiss and he tasted both their tears. Her hands fell limply at his sides and he realized he had lost, he kissed her still holding on to her, willing her to come back. He gently dropped her in her bed and Eunice rushed in as if she had been at the door all that time. She looked at his face and looked away. Her madam lay limp and lifeless on the bed. She wept. He wept, the whole house seemed to weep too. “Thank you” Eunice simply said. Mitchell turned to leave, his heart out for everyone to see “I love you” he murmured to himself . She didn’t hear him say it, if only she could.

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  1. Sometimes we wish we said somethings earlier and sometimes we don’t regret telling someone how we feel about them.nice touching story.

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